Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/108

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100
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

very differently, but their diagrams are strikingly alike in their main feature. As a matter of interest 'counts' were made of groups of about 5,000 words each from various languages other than English. The characteristic curves thus derived for Italian, Spanish, French, German, Latin and Greek are shown in Figs. 2 and 3, and, for convenience in comparison, that of Dickens's English is added. Many of these 'counts' were furnished by friends who became interested in the matter, and an incident of no little interest was the receipt of a column of numbers on a strip of paper with nothing to indicate its origin or meaning. Suspecting, however, that it might be a 'word count,' its diagram was constructed and it was instantly and beyond all reasonable doubt identified as coming from the Latin of Caesar.

PSM V60 D108 Plot of writing characteristics of four popular 19th century writers.png

Fig. 2.

The original published description referred to above concludes as follows:

From the examinations thus far made I am convinced that 100,000 words will be necessary and sufficient to furnish the characteristic curve of a writer— that is to say, if a curve is constructed from 100,000 words of a writer, taken from any one of his productions, then a second curve from another 100,000 words would be practically identical with the first and that this curve would, in general, differ from that formed in the same way from another writer, to such an extent that one could always be distinguished from another. To demonstrate the existence of such a curve would require the enumeration of the letters of several hundred thousand words from each of a number of writers. Should its existence be established the method might then be applied to cases